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Government outlines its plans for EU immigration in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit


Visas would be required for stays of 3 months or more from 30 March

Date of Publication:
29 January 2019

Government outlines its plans for EU immigration in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit

29 January 2019

The Government yesterday published important information on what will happen to immigration from the EU if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without having agreed a deal. With just 59 days to go, the EU's deputy chief Brexit negotiator, Sabine Weyand, warned yesterday that the risk of an accidental no deal now appears high.

A Home Office press release here provides an overview of the Government's announcement on EU immigration, and a detailed policy paper is available here.

The Home Office press release summarises the Government's position as follows: "In the event of no deal, EU citizens will be able to enter the UK to visit, work or study after 29 March 2019. For stays longer than 3 months, European Temporary Leave to Remain will be required."

A guidance document on European Temporary Leave to Remain was also published yesterday and is available here. It explains: "After the UK leaves the EU, if there is no Brexit deal, EEA citizens will be able to enter the UK as they do now (for an interim period). However, following the end of free movement and before the UK's new skills-based immigration system begins in 2021, you will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain to stay longer than 3 months. You do not need to apply for any immigration status or visa if you do not intend to stay in the UK for more than 3 months."

The Government says it will seek to end free movement "as soon as possible" after a no deal Brexit.

Once freedom of movement has ended, EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK will be admitted under UK immigration rules and will require permission (leave to enter or remain).

The Home Office added that in event of no deal, EU citizens who arrive after 29 March 2019 and who wish to stay in the UK for longer than 3 years will need to make a further application under the new skills-based future immigration system, which will begin from 2021.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "If we leave the EU without a deal we will continue to deliver on the referendum result and end free movement once and for all – giving us full control of our borders for the first time in decades.

"However, we need to take a practical approach and minimise disruption to ensure the UK stays open for business. That is why we will introduce time-limited transitional arrangements and grant EU citizens coming after March 29 temporary leave."

As made clear by the Home Secretary, the policy does not apply to EU citizens who arrived before 29 March 2019 as their rights to live and work in the UK are covered by the EU Settlement Scheme. "We want them to stay and value them hugely," Javid said.

Some analysis of the no deal plans are available here by Colin Yeo on Free Movement and here by Carter Thomas Solicitors.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons voted yesterday to approve the second reading of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19. The Bill, which will repeal freedom of movement, now progresses to committee stage.

You can read a useful overview of the Bill here on the House of Commons Library website. A detailed 41-page report on the Bill, published on Friday by the House of Commons Library, is available here.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) published a briefing on the Bill here.